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King's College London - Health: More than a medical matter





NHS payout for children fathered by nephew sperm donor

25 June 2012

By Rose Palmer

Appeared in BioNews 662

Two children of a lesbian couple are due to receive £70,000 compensation from the NHS after a mistake led to the death of their sperm donor father. The man was also the nephew of one of the couple.

Six-year-old Carlton Ashman and his sister, four-year-old Sarah, were secretly fathered by Charlie Lowden, who died after a hernia operation. At the age of 15, Lowden donated sperm to Claire Ashman, 31, the civil partner of his aunt, Sarah Ashman. His donation enabled her to fall pregnant and a few years later they asked for his help again.

The couple had agreed to keep the donations a secret, but Lowden's death forced his aunt to reveal the identities of the children to her sister, Lynn.

Sarah Ashman, who entered a civil partnership with Claire after a 13-year relationship, told the Daily Telegraph: 'Charles was very special to me. He was great. When he died, it was our secret. But I had to tell Lynn. I couldn't go through life not telling her because they are her grandchildren'.

Mrs Lowden and her husband took legal action against Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust after their son's death. Charlie Lowden became seriously ill ten days after a routine hernia operation performed at Hexham General Hospital in November 2009.

He was rushed to Wansbeck General Hospital but discharged the following day. He had been vomiting blood and doctors misdiagnosed a post-operative blood clot as a suspected chest infection.

The Trust has agreed to pay a total of £85,000 in compensation following a settlement of the medical negligence claim. The Ashmans' children have both been given a trust fund of £35,000, which they will receive once they turn 18.

Mrs Lowden said: 'We didn't want to accept their offer because, at first, they refused to acknowledge the kids. [...] We told them we would accept an offer if they recognised them, which they have now done'.

A Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said: 'We are deeply saddened by the death of Mr Lowden and wish to again express our sympathies to his family at this difficult time. Whilst a settlement has been made, we recognise it will not compensate the family for their loss'.

 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

22 October 2012 - by Maria Sheppard 
A man in Queensland, Australia, who acted as a known sperm donor for a woman in what appeared to be a private arrangement, has been awarded shared parental responsibility over a girl he fathered... [Read More]

23 April 2012 - by Rosemary Paxman 
Ed Houben, a 42-year-old Dutch man has fathered at least 82 children by private sperm donation, mostly by having sex with his clients, news sources report... [Read More]
22 November 2009 - by Ailsa Stevens 
A fertility doctor based in Greenwich, Connecticut, has been allowed to practice for seven years after being found guilty of using the wrong man's sperm to fertilise one of his IVF patient's eggs and further accused by one of his former patients of substituting his own sperm for her husband's in the conception of their two twin girls. The case was drawn to a close in 2005, when the clinician in question was forced to pay a $10,000 fine, but had been kept a secret until the information was dis... [Read More]
22 June 2009 - by Professor John Milbank 
Should donators of sperm remain anonymous? Some people say yes, others say no. But most assume that the argument is in principle resolvable if we can apply the right principles in relation to accurate evidence.... [Read More]
08 December 2008 - by Natalie Gamble 
I read with interest the article in BioNews and reply commentary from Berenice Golding about the recent Vitabiotics survey finding that over half of women would consider asking a friend to father their child. As a solicitor who has represented many single women and lesbian couples conceiving with 'friends' as... [Read More]

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